Business & Technology

Ensuring Compliance and Security in Education: Fortinet at CoSN 2018

By Sowjanya O Neill | March 08, 2018

Educators across the country are facing a major shift in how they approach the day to day functions of their jobs, as innovative technology continues to pervade the space. The ultimate goal of educating students and preparing them for success remains the same, however, the ways educators do this are changing as new applications and devices become available.  

About the CoSN 2018 Conference

This changing technology landscape and what it means for the education space moving forward is the focus of the CoSN 2018 Annual Conference: Designing Learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The conference will be held from March 12th-15th at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. This event promises to bring together K-12 chief technology officers, instructional technology directors, superintendents, school district teams, as well as government and nonprofit representatives to network, collaborate, and attend sessions on how to navigate the technical advancements happening across the industry.

Technology Use in K-12 Education

This is an especially important conversation to have now, as schools undergo digital transformation. Today, K-12 schools are increasing their use of the cloud, web applications, and connected IoT devices. Applications and connected devices, often student owned through BYOD policies, give students greater access to educational resources. Furthermore, IoT devices are also being leveraged to build connected classrooms, making operations more efficient throughout the school. Currently, 46 percent of educators anticipating IoT to make a major impact in the next two years, especially in student engagement and measuring student success.

In addition to the increased use of web applications and IoT devices, schools are also incorporating artificial intelligence. As applications and devices collect information on student engagement and success, this data can be analyzed to give teachers a better understanding of where their students are having a difficult time understanding the material. Artificial intelligence can then be leveraged to provide specific students with the additional attention they need.

The Challenges with Tech Adoption in K-12

While each of these uses of technology is largely beneficial in education, they also present some new challenges surrounding compliance and security.  

  • Compliance
    K-12 schools are subject to several regulations which aim to protect the privacy of students and their families, such as CIPA, FERPA, and COPPA. In addition to maintaining privacy, these regulations are also tasked with ensuring the safety of students while using technology. Therefore, they necessitate that certain infrastructure be in place to keep students from accessing inappropriate content. As schools embrace the fourth industrial revolution and the technology that defines it, they must also be weary that each new deployment meets compliance standards.
  • Cybersecurity
    In addition to meeting compliance, educational institutions must also ensure they have the security controls in place to protect against a growing number of advanced cyber threats. As schools increase their use of technology, they are broadening their attack surface, making them susceptible to ransomware attacks – for which they are the most targeted industry – DDoS, phishing scams, and more. To protect the private data of faculty and students, while ensuring compliance, schools must have the security controls in place to keep pace with growing attacks.

Due to the cybersecurity skills gaps, these challenges are also exacerbated by shorthanded IT teams, and limited resources.

Fortinet at CoSN 2018

Fortinet will be hosting two sessions at the conference, specifically focused on helping educational institutions remain compliant and secure as they adapt to changing technical demands.

  • Turning Federal Regulations into a security advantage to meet CIPA, COPPA and FERPA regulations
    This session will be hosted by Felipe Fernandez, Director of Sales Engineering at Fortinet. At this talk, attendees will learn how school IT teams can leverage cybersecurity regulations and guidelines, such as NIST 800-53 r4, to manage privacy concerns such as data leakage, as well as how they can be used to meet standards required by CIPA, FERPA, and COPPA. These regulations include guidance on mitigating threats brought on by advance persistent threats, web applications, mobile devices, cloud and more. This session will demonstrate how the government is using these controls to enhance security, and how schools can similarly do so while also helping to meet compliance.

When: Tuesday, March 13th from 3:15 – 3:45

Room: Dupont

  • Combatting the Evolving Cyber Threat Landscape in the K-12 Arena
    This session, led by Sowjanya O’Neill, Senior Manager of SLED Marketing at Fortinet, will give an in-depth view of the threat landscape K-12 schools currently face. As schools open up their networks to allow for collaboration and the free flow of information across devices, cybercriminals are developing new ways to exploit the slightest of vulnerabilities. Attendees will learn what the most recent threat intelligence reveals about attack strategies, including the top attacks facing education today, the ZeroAccess Botnet,  the Andromeda Botnet, W32/MS04028.fam!, and more. From there, this session will address strategies and best practices IT teams can use to mitigate these threats, in addition to examining real examples of schools that have designed security into IoT based applications.


When: Wednesday, March 14th from 10:30-11:30

Room: Gunston East 

Final Thoughts

While modern technology can offer huge benefits to the education space, it cannot come at the expense of compliance and security. At CoSN 2018, Fortinet will help educators and IT teams to embrace these changes while continuing to ensure privacy and compliance.